This morning I found myself thinking about one of our dogs, Sydney. She’s a Border Collie who lives with her brother on a farm in SC where she has loads of room to run and play. Ever since she was a puppy, she’s loved to run after things and bring them back to you. At first it was bottle caps on the kitchen floor. Later, it became catching frisbees high in the air.
When we first moved to MD, she was living in SC while we made the transition to a new state. We got a call that she’d been in an accident – seemingly hit by a car. By the time we got all the information, we learned she’d broken her back in 5 places and had brain damage and would likely not live. We took her to another vet. Again, we were told bad news, but told of Va Tech, which has the best vet school on the east coast. We loaded Sydney on a backboard, literally, and drove overnight to Va Tech, where they opened up to receive us in the middle of the night. I remember the surgeon telling us she’d have about 50% chance of making it, and she might lose her front leg down the road. I’m not as close to dogs, but Brian said immediately, “We have to try.”
Later, over the coming weeks, I had a dream. I saw Sydney running and jumping and catching frisbees with only three legs. She was happy, but more importantly, I had this deep feeling that through all of this, we were being prepared for something. I had no idea exactly what, but each weekend, we’d drive from MD to Va Tech and help Sydney learn to walk on her three legs. It’s obvious now, but at the time, we just did what we had to do.
When Catherine was born, I recalled that feeling. Somehow, deep in the pit of me, I knew she’d be disabled and I knew we’d been prepared through Sydney. And I knew the phrase, “We have to try,” would become central to our lives. It has.
Separately, I’ve been thinking about some significant happenings at work. Many elements of my past have prepared me exactly for what I face in those happenings. And yet, for some, I feel completely unprepared. And I realized that the ones for which I am not exactly prepared, are preparing me for something else. That’s somehow comforting to me and gives me hope.
The Boy Scout motto also echoed in my mind this morning: Be Prepared! I’ve always interpreted that to mean you should have your knife with you or your first-aid kit or whatever other items you need in case of an emergency. But more often, life’s needs don’t respond to a knife or a first-aid kid or an extra set of layers. Instead, they require experience that gives you a level head, a smart approach, and a conviction that “We have to try.” Being prepared isn’t about the stuff; it’s about the experience. And even though you can go into terrain you’ve never encountered before, life’s lessons from your past have prepared you to be exactly where you are in this moment. If you survey your past and realize you have nothing from your experience to draw upon, then you can bet that you better take good notes because you’re being prepared for something down the road.
Not sure why I thought about all this early this morning. But I did and felt like sharing it here. It gives me hope when I’m nervous about those things I don’t quite think I have the experience to solve. Be prepared.